Study says CIA's In-Q-Tel is on right track, but needs fine-tuning

Study says CIA's In-Q-Tel is on right track, but needs fine-tuning

An independent panel evaluating the Central Intelligence Agency's information technology incubator company said that In-Q-Tel should be given a chance to prove itself, but that the CIA should develop a better process for implementing new technology in the agency.

The CIA created In-Q-Tel, its venture capital arm, in 1999 with a five-year charter to fund commercial development of high-tech products needed by the agency. It has invested $30 million in about two dozen projects and brought three products to the pilot stage. Congress mandated an outside review of the program last year and the CIA selected the Washington non-profit organization Business Executives for National Security for the job.

BENS concluded in a report released yesterday that although it is too early to properly judge In-Q-Tel's success, it is on a good track and should be allowed to continue its work for another three years. But the CIA has not clearly defined its IT needs, making it difficult to determine how well In-Q-Tel is working, the panel's report said.

Getting new products accepted by the agency also is needlessly complicated, the panel found. Its report said that although BENS found support for In-Q-Tel at the highest levels of the CIA, there is less support at lower levels and a reluctance to accept technology that has not been developed in-house.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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